History of Streator, LaSalle County Illinois

Contributed by Nancy Piper


Perhaps no city, town or village in the State of Illinois, outside of the great city of Chicago, presents an instance of such rapid and substantial growth as the city of Streator. From a single small grocery house, established in 1861 by John O'Neil, for the convenience and accommodation of the miners of the vicinity, and which was the only trading place for a period of several years, the name" Scrabble," by which the locality was then known, has grown to be a city of 6,000 prosperous and intelligent people. Churches, school-houses, large, substantial business houses and handsome residences, with elegant grounds and surroundings, now beautify the waste of ten years ago, while the hum of machinery and thronged streets are unmistakable evidences of business importance- and prosperity. The genii, if the term may be employed, that has caused this city to spring up in a night, is the rich beds of coal that underlie all this section, touched by the magic hand of Colonel Ralph Plumb, who carne here about the year 1866, as the representative of a company of eastern capitalists whose attention had been attracted hitherward by the rich coal deposits. Large tracts of land 'were purchased, and measures inaugurated for the development of this coal field, that, up to that time, had been but imperfectly worked. Backed by a large capital, and managed by sagacious minds like Dr. Streator, President of the company, and Col. Plumb, Business Manager, " Scrabble" soon had to scrabble away and give place to Streator, named in honor of the President of the company.

In 1866, the line of the Fox River Division of the C. B. & Q. railroad was surveyed, and work at once commenced. In the year following, the building of the road was completed and put in operation. In 1867 the town site was laid off, and from the fall of that year to the coming of the financial panic that has so oppressed the country for the last three years its growth was almost marvelous.

In 1870 the building of the Dwight Division of the Chicago and Alton railroad was commenced and completed in a few months. The Chicago Pekin and Southwestern came next, and was soon followed by the undertaking of the Chicago and Paducah road, thus giving Streator railroad advantages possessed by probably no other town in the State.

The building of these several roads served to enhance the value of the mining interests, as they increased the demand, as well as to offer facilities for transportation that brought the Streator coal-fields within easy reach of the manufacturing and coal-consuming centers of the entire country' and to-day the coal of these mines is known and approved throughout the country. Eight different coal-shafts are in operation. Of these, six are operated by farmers in the vicinity of Streator, and two by regularly organized companies. It is estimated that the mines hereabouts give employment to 1,200 miners, while the Vermillion Coal and Mining Company has frequently paid to miners and other operatives as much as $33,500 per month for labor. It is further estimated that the amounts paid out by the other mines would swell the amount to $40,000 per month, or a grand total of $480,000 per annum. The coal deposits are inexhaustible, and the yield pronounced of superior quality wherever it has been used. The large amount of money employed in operating these mines served to attract the attention of capitalists and business men of various classes, and this, in turn, to accelerate the growth of the city, until now it ranks in business importance among the best towns and cities of the country. The country around has kept pace with the growth of the city until in all that goes to make a people prosperous and happy this community are peculiarly favored.

Streator, under its present municipal organization, was incorporated in 1874. Soon after its charter issued a city election was held, resulting in the choice of the following officers: Trustees-Samuel W. Plumb, Dennis Fogarty, C. W. Schoonover, F. Eades, James Jones and John Cotton. Clerk-D. B. Little. At the first meeting of the Board of Trustees, Samuel Plumb was elected President.

O. H. Head was the first Police Justice; James Foster the Village Constable; J. Clayton, Night Police; Frank Ames, Street Commissioner ; O. Chubbick, Village Attorney, and W. H. Pilche, Village Treasurer.

The present trustees are-D. B. Little, President; F. McGrath, D. McVean, E. Cope, W. H. H. Mulford and B. St. Clair. M. A. Braison Clerk. Warren Rockwood, Village Constable; Patrick Finnesy and E. G. Ball, Night Police; W. S. Gates, Treasurer; Dennis Fogarty, Street Commissioner ; C. W. Keller, Attorney ; Z. S. Craecroft, Police Justice.

At the last election for village officers, 900 votes were polled.


There are ten regularly organized churches in Streator, all of whom worship in respectable church edifices. The first church building was erected by Rev. Mr. High who was an early pioneer of Presbyterianism in this part of Illinois. He was a bachelor, and a man of wealth, as well as of piety and worth. In 1869, he purchased a square of ground and erected a small building 'which he used as a house of worship. In 1872, Mr. High built an addition to his primitive church building and commenced holding regular services, the services previously held being irregular, or at stated intervals. Rev. J. A. Ewalt is the present pastor of the church thus founded.

In 1869, Elder Leroy Woods, C. P., carne to Streator, and without a dollar to his name, (having lost all in Missouri, during the rebellion.) commenced to labor among the people of his faith, and in 1870, laid the plans and commenced the erection of a house of worship, which was completed and dedicated in 1871. This was the first house of worship dedicated by any branch of the Church of God, in the city of Streator. Elder Wood was succeeded in his ministerial duties by Rev. J. Ewalt, who still remains as pastor.

The next church building erected was by the M. E. people in 1872, which was undertaken by Rev. Mr. Bently, then stationed at Streator, throngh appointment of the annual conference of his church. Rev. G. W. Gue is the present pastor.

Hardly had the Methodist people completed their building, when the Christians erected a very handsome church edifice, in which regular services have since been held. Elder N. S. Bastian is the present pastor.

The United Brethren, under the management of Rev. Mr. Hay, erected a church edifice in 1873, in which the pulpit is now supplied by Rev, Joel Corley.

The Catholic people commenced building in 1871, but did not complete their building until 1875. Rev. J. B. McDonough is in charge of this people.

The Protestant Episcopals occupy a house commenced under missionary enterprise in 1874, but not yet fully completed. A handsome parsonage is built adjoining, Rev. J. R. Holst, pastor.

The German Evangelical Church of North Streator is represented by a good congregation, that worships in a good house. Rev. Wm. Schuslee, pastor.

The Baptist people worship in a handsome brick edifice, and are in a prosperous condition, erected within the last few years. Rev. E. F. Carnahon, pastor.

The Primitive Methodist are also represented, and have regular Sunday services.

The aggregate membership of the protestant churches is estimated at from 800 to 1,000, and the value of their church property at $50,000.

The schools are in a flourishing condition. There are three good school houses, the first of which was erected in 1869, since when, the growth of the city and increase of the population demanded the erection of others, and even these three buildings are inadequate to the demand, and rooms are rented to temporarily supply the deficiency. Prof. Lakin is superintendent.


A people of enterprise, from the earliest days of the beginning of Streator, they did not lose sight of the importance and power of the newspaper press, in guiding and directing all questions affecting their best interests, and with commendable liberality give living support to three good weekly newspapers. The oldest of these newspapers is the Monitor, which was established in October, 1869, by Fred. D. Dalton and J. D. Dalton. It is Republican in politics, and has ably seconded every legitimate undertaking for the promotion of the public good of its locality. In March 1873, it passed into the hands of W. W. Bean, its present manager.

The Free Press was established in July, 1873, by Irving Carner and W. W. Bean, under the firm name of Carner & Bean. They were succeeded by J. H. Clark, who, in a short time after his purchase of the office, associated with him in the publication of the paper, .Mr. Walter Hoge, to whom he subsequently sold his entire interest. Early in the present year, Mr. Hoge sold an interest in the establishment t to Mr. John Fornof, and the firm now is Hoge & Fornof. The Free Press is Democratic.

The Pionee was established in June, 1875, by J. D. Rutan, with F. D. Dalton, as editor. Its present manager is W. H.. Gale.


Blue Lodge A. F. and A. M. No. 607 Instituted in 1868. F.W. Eades, W. M.; H. Hall, S. W.; R. Law, J. W.; A. Angell, S. D.; J. Ryan, J. D.; J. H. Kuhns, Sec; C. Dyer, Treas.; J. W. Plowman, Tyler.

Chapter. C. E. Stephens, H. P.; J. Ercanbrack, K.; C. Withrow, Scribe; F. W. Eads, C. of H; H. L. Merritt, P. S.; C. W. Wilkins, R. A. C; C. Downing, G. M. of 3d V.; J. IT. Sweetzer, G. M. of 2d V.; H. Hall, G. M. 1st V.; W. H. Pilcher, Sec; W. Lucas, Treas.; M. Jack, Tyler. Instituted 1875.

Centennial Temple No. 1., United Order of Ancient Templars, instituted Nov. 4th, 1876. John N. Ercanbrack, Templar; Mrs. Eliza Y. Mason, Vice Templar; John D. McVean, Past Templar; John R. Hoist, Lecturer; Wm. L. Ley, Recorder; Chas. II. Mason, Financier; Mrs. M. J. Ley, Treasurer; James Stuart, Marshal; Miss Susie Bickerton, Assistant Marshal; Miss Hattie Johnson, Guard; Henry Yeager, Watchman; Mrs. Frances J. Kenfield, Assistant Recorder. Trustees: C. H. Mason, J. D. McVean, R. C. Myers. Number of members, eighty.

Rose of Eden No. 6. Organized January 12th, 1877. Officers: Alexander Helm, R. W. M.; John Harrison, D. W. M.; Charles Miller, S. W.; Ralph Rankin, J. N.; George Y. Patton, R. S.; Andrew Scooler, T.; Peter Sway, F. S.; Thomas Bailie, S. S.; Richard Muir, G.S.; James Davidson, S. W.; D. Borders, J. IL; Wm. Miller, I. G.; R. Ranton, O. G.; John Notman, C. Lodge has forty members.

Edina Lodge No. 391, I. O. O. F. Organized in 1869. Officers for present term: N. G., Samuel Simpkins; V. G., Jas. Orr; R. S., Jas. Hillier; 'er. Sec, Henry Wood; Warden, Dan. Banders; Con., David Spencer; I. G., Ed. Bennil; O. G., Geo. Candee; R. S. N. G., Isaac Kear; L. S. N. G., Stephen Mauerman; R. S. V. G., Jos. Westwood; L. S. V. G., Geo. H. Colwell; R. S. S., Jno. Crumb; L. S. S., Reese Price. Trustees: Rev. LeRoy Woods, Henry Wood, Richard Hargraves, Isaac Kerr, Jno. Pliner. Number members in good standing, ninety-eight.

Streator Lodge, 1. 0. O. F., No. 602, was established in 1876. Its present officers are : J. M. Davidson, N. G.; J. D. Rutan, V. G.; Davis Atkins, Sec; Sam. H. Overholt, Treas.; M.J. AVilliams, Per. Sec; W. W. Bean, Warden; J. B. Pauly, Con.; John McCormick, L. D.

Beethoven Lodge, I. O. O. F. Jacob Doll, N. G.; Erhord Speidel, V. G.; W. Sommer, P. G.; X. Wolfi, Treas.; H. Smith, Sec.

Encampment, Streator. Reese Davis, C. P.; James Orr, S. W.; Dave Wolferman, J. W.; James Williams, Treas.; Ed. Kerby, H. P.; John J. McCormick, Scribe.

North Streator Lodge No. 429, I. O. of G. T. Organized December 19, 1874. Officers: Thos. Hudson, W. C. T.; Viola Giles, It. H. S.; Christina Richardson, L. H. S.; Sarah Jinkins, W. V. T.; D. Huggins, P. W. O; C. II. Linscott, W. R. S.; Sarah Jones, W. H. S.; H. H. Dicus, W. O; Minnie Giles, W. F. S.; Marias Dinsmore, W. T.; Jno. Hodge, W. M.; Lizzie Huggins, W. D. M.; Lizzie Jones, W. I. G.; Robt. Adamson, W. O. G. Lodge has 40 members.

Father Mathew Society, organized October 10, 1874. Officers: Patt Mclnerny, President ; Win. Price, Vice President; John McCall, R. S.; Frank. Hendrix, C. S.; Joseph McConnell, F. S.; James Glenner, Marshal; John R. Devine, Treasurer. Society has 60 members.

Centennial Lodge No. 14, A. O. of W. Organized July 5, 1876. Officers : J. H. Finley, P. M. W. ; Henry Wood, M. W.; Edward Evans, G. F.; John Musgrave, O.; George Powel, G.; Walter Hogc, Receiver; Julia Moses, Recorder; L. B. Shoop, Financier; John Roberts, J. G.; John Davis, O. G. No. of members, 38. J. Musgrave, E. Cope, E. Jones, Trustees; J. H. Finley, M. D., Medical Examiner.

North Streator Lodge No. 7, A. O. U. W. Organized January 1876. Officers : D. S. R. Wells, P. M. W.; P. Butterfield, M. W.; H. H. Standish, G. F.; J. Newbery, O.; D. Wolferman, Financier; J. O. Beal, Recorder; C. R. Stewart, Receiver; J. Mowberry, G.; A. Hayes, I. W.; Thos. Bower, O. W.; H. H. Standish, Wm. Robinson, W. II. Smith, Trustees; Geo. R. "Wells, M. D., Medical Examiner.

Druids: Eurich Brooks, N. A.; Thomas, V. A.; Henry

Beard, Sec; M. Jones, Treas. Instituted, 1874. '9#

[The Past and present of La Salle County, Illinois : containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, &c., a biographical directory of its citizens, war record of its volunteers in the late rebellion, portraits of early settlers and prominent men, general and local statistics, map of La Salle County, history of Illinois, Constitution of the United States, miscellaneous matters, etc, etc.. Chicago: H.F. Kett & Co., Ottaway & Colbert, printers), 1877. Page 350-351]

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